Geert and Dickie Jurgens’ names are indelibly linked to the South African caravan market. So when they started building premium motorhomes a few years ago, people inevitably wondered if they would re-enter the caravan market at some stage.
When we saw them last year, they mentioned that something was in the pipeline, but refused to reveal any particulars. Well, now we finally have some details.
The TravelStar Group has become the official distributor of Fendt Caravans in South Africa.
On learning this news, one question immediately springs to mind: why would the Jurgens brothers decide to important caravans instead of designing and building their own?
Simply put, it is impossible to compete with the quality offered by Fendt, says Geert Jurgens.
“Fendt is one of the largest caravan manufacturers in Europe. They build around 30 000 units each year and are leaders when it comes to build quality and technological innovation.
“Locally, when it comes to innovation, the market is about 15 years behind Europe,” continues Geert. “So it’s almost impossible to set up a factory and produce caravans that can compete on the world stage. Fendt already has all the expertise and support necessary to create premium caravans.”
This prompted TravelStar to become the sole distributor of Fendt caravans in South Africa. They started small, importing only a few units, but these were snapped up in record time.
“We couldn’t believe the response we received,” says Geert. “Ever since entering the market, we’ve been trying to build up stock locally, but the caravans are typically sold before they even arrive here.”
Why are these caravans so popular?
“I think we are offering South African caravan enthusiasts something new. These caravans boast a level of quality and comfort that people aren’t used to,” says Geert.
Indeed, Fendt’s caravans boast countless innovations. For instance, they offer central heating, which makes it possible to take trips during cold winter months. The support wheel has a nifty load indicator, and gas cylinders have a large locker where they can be stowed.
What makes these caravans truly unique, however, is their interiors. The living areas are tasteful, elegant and very yacht-like. Only the best materials have been used. The kitchens boast all the accoutrements one could ask for, including a refrigerator, stove with hotplates, sink with glass cover and cutlery drawer.
The Brillant model, the most expensive unit in the range, has “Virginia Tulip wood” finish, leather upholstery, plush carpets, under-floor heating, 26-inch TFT television set and a light-switching system with remote control and graphic display.
As you’d probably expect, though, the Brillant is expensive. Three sizes are available, and the biggest one retails at R504 330.
To be honest, the Brillant is not the most impressive model. Sure, it is the biggest and swankiest, but such a large, expensive caravan is aimed at a small part of the market. Most people will not be shopping in this range.
The most impressive models are the more affordable ones, because they offer incredibly good value for money. Models such as the Saphir and the Bianco are unusually comfortable and well equipped, but can compete with local caravans when it comes to price.
The smallest Bianco model, the 390 FH, retails at R220 434.
Between the affordable Bianco and the top-of-the-range Brillant you will find innumerable other models to choose from. More than 40 models, in fact, are available.
South African customers can choose from the entire range. If a unit is not available in South Africa, it can be ordered from Germany and will be ready for delivery within three months. Prospective owners can also customise units to suit their particular needs.
Since Fendt caravans are from Europe, it is hardly surprising that they offer great build quality and high-end finishes. What is surprising, however, is their affordability. Despite being imported, these caravans do not cater exclusively to the upper reaches of the market. Models such as the Bianco and Saphir are ideal for adventurous couples and young families. They’re good looking and well decorated, but remain practical and durable. Travelling with kids shouldn’t be a problem.
These caravans appear set to shake up the local market quite a bit.